TC Media Center from the Office of External Affairs

Section Navigation

Does this explain muskrat love?

Scientists have confirmed what poets have long known: Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Working with mouse-like rodents called prairie voles, scientists have found that close monogamous relationships alter the chemistry of the brain, fostering the release of a compound that builds loyalty but also plays a role in depression during times of separation.

"When humans grieve they don't just give up and sit like lumps," George Bonanno, a psychologist at Columbia University's Teachers College who studies the process of bereavement. "They have purposeful behavior even when they are feeling lousy."

The experiment might help explain the longing people feel for partners who are absent or who die. The study might also shed light on why couples remain in relationships that are bad for them.

The article, "Does this explain muskrat love?” appeared at Octover 16th on in the "Los Angeles Times" http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-sci-vole16-2008oct16,0,3174437.story
previous page